Hi everyone, Danny here checking in from Poland. You can hear my thoughts on Euro 2012 every morning on Sky Sports News Radio.
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England have yet again just done enough and that’s been the course of the tournament. They haven’t played particularly well in any of the games but does that really matter? England are starting to build a bit of momentum, we have had a touch of fortune in a couple of games but you need that if you’re going to do well at these sorts of tournaments. Suddenly now England have exceeded expectations and they’re now in a situation where they play Italy in the quarter-finals, which is a very winnable game.
Playing down expectations
Before the tournament I felt five points would have been a good total, draws against France and Sweden and beating Ukraine. Whether that was going to be enough, I would have to wait and see. But they’ve won the group and France were disappointing. We know England have deficiencies in being able to keep the ball; technically we’re not as good as some nations but at the moment we’re on a bit of a role.
I think Roy Hodgson has got it right tactically, the team spirit seems to be fantastic, the organisation seems pretty good and I also think the John Terry/Rio Ferdinanad situation has gone away completley. There was a lot of questioning of Hodgson’s decision about whether Rio should be in the squad or in the team and John Terry should be left behind. Whether you like him or not John Terry has played well and he epitomises what is good about those performances: it’s dogged, determined and he’s prepared to put his body on the line.
Once again we had another controversial incident in the game in Donetsk, with Ukraine seeing what looked like a goal chalked off. I really have no idea what the fifth or sixth official was actually doing. He was looking straight at it and it was clearly over the line, only by a few inches but that’s clear enough to be over the line. Would that have changed the game? Quite possibly, it would have given Ukraine the impetus to come forward and attack more. You could have said if it had finished 1-1 then it wouldn’t have effected anything, they would have still gone on to win the group.
It was a bit like the situation against Germany in Bloemfontein with the Frank Lampard ‘goal’ – those moments change games. The tempo of the game changes and the outcome and tempo of the play can hinge on these decisions. So it was a bit of a game changer, but England rode their luck and that’s not their fault. They got away with one and now they move on with momentum building.
His timings were a little bit off, but he took his goal well from all of six inches, fantastic finish from there, but you have to be there. You can say there was a bit of luck with the deflections but he has to be there. That’s what good strikers are all about. You have to remember he hasn’t played since the back end of the Premier League season. You can do all the training you want but he won’t have that match shapness. There was a couple of headers where his timing was slightly off but that will come back.
Tactics spot on again
Roy Hodgson was always going to be pragmatic and organised. Apart from those two poor defensive goals against Sweden, England have looked pretty solid. They haven’t conceded too many clear-cut chances and have limited teams to shots from distance which you would expect Joe Hart to save. James Milner is in the team because he works exceptionally hard; he might not have the flair of a Theo Walcott but he’s doing a job for the team and I think this is what epitomises England at the moment. Steven Gerrard is sitting a little bit deeper and we would love to see him get further forward, but at the moment England are playing to their strengths.
I’ve seen Italy play a few times and they’re a good side. Tactically they’re very astute but I think Giorgio Chiellini missing will be a big bonus for England. They have a lot of experience in their side and they know how to win games at tournaments. They, like England, have exceeding expectation with their domestic football in absolute turmoil. I think it will be a very intriguing game, but a game I can see England winning and a game I can see England losing.